Nottingham’s local conservative group is said to be “in hot water” over a dispute that has led to the resignation of the city council leader. The Conservative Party currently has just two members on Nottingham City Council, but as it stands, neither of them will be on the ballot in May’s local elections.
One of the councillors, Roger Steel, has not been chosen again by the local party as a candidate in a move that he says has left him “hanging”. Andrew Rule, the leader of the Conservative Group on Nottingham City Council, has announced that he will not stand in the upcoming election in protest of the party’s treatment of Roger Steel.
The issue began last September, when the Nottingham City Conservative Federation held a Zoom meeting to start the process of selecting their candidates for this year’s election. When the question of having Roger Steel as the Conservative candidate again in the Clifton West district came up, four people voted in favour, but one person voted to defer this decision.
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Roger Steel says he was unaware of this meeting and that under the rules and regulations adopted in 2022, a postponement is not allowed. So a face-to-face interview panel was convened last year and ended up with three people voting for Roger Steel’s re-election but three voting against, with the tied vote meaning he will not be a candidate in the May. just as he is.
Councilor Steel, who says he has never been given a reason for his deselection, unsuccessfully appealed against the decision but says he continues to press the federation to reinstate him in the selection process. He says he too wants Jim Armstrong reinstated in the selection process, as Armstrong was previously elected as Wollaton West councilor in 2015.
Speaking on the federation’s current position, Roger Steel said: “Together with Andrew Rule, we have doubled the (Conservative) majority and both have strong personal supporters, as you would expect from sitting councillors. Outlook for both in May Elections they were encouraging.
“I reject this attempt to hijack this seat and parachute into a candidate who works in London. I have been hung up to dry and there has been a lot of unrest among the remaining committee members and members.”
The Nottingham City Conservative Federation has been contacted for comment, but one of the group’s vice-chairmen, Andy Byrne, has spoken out against the way Roger Steel has been treated. Asked how the Conservatives currently stand ahead of the May 4 election, Byrne said: “We’re in a mess.
“Roger Steel is a very good councilor in terms of giving back to the residents and he works in Council House three or four days a week dealing with issues. Andrew Rule is also an incredibly community driven councilor and they are both very well known in Clifton.
“On a good day I think even our Labor opponents would concede that both Roger and Andrew are fabulous councillors. So we have members and MPs pulling their hair out over what’s going on and I think CCHQ (Conservative campaign headquarters) will have to see wrapped.”
Both Roger Steel and Andrew Rule will serve out their current terms as councilors until the May 4 election, and both currently represent the Clifton West ward. Andrew Rule has been a member of Nottingham City Council since 2015 and has led the Conservative Group since 2017 following the death of his predecessor, Georgina Culley.
Roger Steel was first elected to Nottingham City Council in 2011, but says he has worked with the local Tory group for around 20 years. Councilman Steel listed several ways he says both he and Andrew Rule have delivered for Clifton, including working closely with local police teams, improving major trails and taking responsibility for floral displays and Christmas lights at the area.
Councilor Andrew Rule confirmed that he withdrew his application to stand in the May election on Thursday (9 February). In a statement, he said: “It was a very difficult decision for me, but I could not in good conscience, given the circumstances, continue with the selection process.
“I felt that being selected as a Conservative candidate would imply that I agree with, or even support, the deal for Councilor Steel. I don’t.
“It has been the honor of my life to represent Clifton, Wilford and Silverdale on Nottingham City Council.” Andrew Byrne said that with less than three months to go before local elections, Nottingham’s Conservatives have approved only one candidate in Wollaton.
The upcoming election will see all 55 Nottingham City Council constituencies up for grabs, with Labor currently holding 50 of them along with the two Conservative and three seats that Nottingham Independents won. Elections will take place across Nottinghamshire, with all seven boroughs and county councils being voted on as well.